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09-05-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 1/2021 Open Access

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 1/2021

Parental Perceptions and Decisions Regarding Maintaining Bilingualism in Autism

Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders > Uitgave 1/2021
Katie Howard, Jenny Gibson, Napoleon Katsos
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A growing body of evidence suggests that bilingual exposure does not negatively impact children on the autism spectrum. This study sought to illuminate parents’ perceptions and choices regarding maintaining bilingualism in autism. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 16 family members in England and Wales. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). Although parents expressed positive attitudes towards bilingualism, these views were not always congruent with their language practices. Instead, several factors influenced decisions about language maintenance in autism, including the severity of the child’s autism, advice received, and the importance of English as the dominant societal language. This article calls for greater support for families in making language decisions that are suitable for the individual child and their family.

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